Fort Drum Soldier Dies in Afghanistan of Noncombat Injuries

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A Fort Drum infantryman has died in Afghanistan, post officials said Tuesday.

Spc. Kyle E. Gilbert, 24, of Buford, Ga., died Monday of unspecified noncombat injuries in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Ralph E. Gilbert, Spc. Gilbert's father, said by phone Tuesday that he had been told his son died of a gunshot wound to the stomach but had not received a full assessment of the situation. The Department of Defense said Spc. Gilbert's death remains under investigation.

Spc. Gilbert had been in the Army since April 2013, according to the Army, and came to Fort Drum that November. He deployed to Afghanistan in June with the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Mr. Gilbert said his son previously had enlisted in the Marines in 2009, but left the service after suffering a major injury to his eardrum during basic training.

After years of rehabilitation and obtaining approvals from doctors, the younger Mr. Gilbert joined the Army.

"He wanted to serve his country so bad that he didn't want to stop because of his eardrum," Mr. Gilbert said. "That's all he ever wanted to do. Ever since he was a little boy, that's all he said."

Mr. Gilbert said he and other family members will travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet his son's casket.

"You don't think about it; you think in your mind the war is over," he said. "You don't think the danger is there until it happens to you, and when it does, it hits hard."

"Specialist Gilbert was an exceptional soldier and junior leader in our battalion. He met every mission and challenge with contagious enthusiasm and vigor," Lt. Col. Michael Kovacevic, the battalion's commander, said in a statement. "His family is in our continued thoughts and prayers. His memory will forever remain with those who served with him."

He is survived by his mother, father, stepmother and brother, the Army stated.

The Army said Spc. Gilbert's career recognitions included an Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

Before Tuesday's release of Spc. Gilbert's name, the Stars and Stripes said Monday that he was the first noncombat death in Afghanistan this year, and the fifth overall U.S. casualty. It also said 51 service members have been injured this year, citing Pentagon statistics.

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Army Afghanistan